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United Way Blog

An Innovative Approach to Overcoming Barriers to Stable Employment

When Juan’s car started having problems, he took it to the dealership and discovered the transmission needed to be replaced. But the price tag for this much-needed fix was way beyond what he could afford. This wasn’t just an inconvenience for Juan; his car was his only reliable transportation to his night shift job (one of two full-time jobs Juan was holding down at the time).

Fortunately, Juan was able to access the Income Advance Loan, a benefit through his employer in partnership with a local credit union. With his employer-based loan, Juan was able to get his car fixed without missing work – a benefit to Juan and his employer.

Juan was able to get the support he needed because of Working Bridges, an initiative led by United Way of Northwest Vermont (formerly United Way of Chittenden County) that aims to overcome barriers to stable employment.

Working Bridges is a joint effort by United Way, employers, and other community partners to address barriers such as childcare, reliable transportation and acute need for emergency financial assistance. By creating solutions to these challenges, Working Bridges improves workplace productivity, retention, and advancement, as well as the financial stability and wellbeing of employees. It’s a win-win.

Through Working Bridges employers are able to offer, among other things, income advance loans like the one Juan used; financial education workshops that teach people how to save more, better manage their assets, and improve their credit; and free on-site tax preparation that helps people save on filing fees and take advantage of tax credits like the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) and Child Tax Credit.

What’s good for business can also be good for people, and communities – when it’s done right. That’s the guiding principle behind Working Bridges, which is helping more than 1,500 employees annually respond to financial emergencies, build credit, and begin saving.